Graphic & Media Design
Visual designer @claptongirls
Has the pandemic proved to be the right push for organisations who otherwise counted on print form as their trusted medium? Will schools, in particular, continue to do things the way they used to pre-Covid? Or will they continue to restructure their systems, now that they have witnessed the full effects of the digital realm.
Just two questions that arises from discussions within the marketing office at CGA (a school in Hackney that I am currently still working with). A year living with Covid-19 has cornered artists/designers/marketers into unleashing their digital skills, even further than some might have already been tackling. Schools in particular have been put to the test the most, as in a short time span, technology had to be at the centre of everything they did. CGA, founded in 1906, has always honoured its traditional ways of doing. Fast forward to last October, 2020, when I started working; the school was at the stage of rethinking majority of their event structures for online use. Having been a student myself at the school, seeing the development of certain frameworks move to digital, has been a real life time-lapse of print to digital form. The digital world has allowed us to keep running even when the physicality of work, shops, leisure activities had to be put on pause. Considering our technologically driven world, we predict that a digital future is the right direction we should be headed in and as creatives, we are always told to think about the future of design. But what happens if the internet is still not accessible to everyone? And will the digital ever replace a physical experience?
Working within a marketing department is a constant learning curve, to say that the digital wave has not persuaded schools is to say the least. Education became one of the main environments for technology to thrive during this last year; CGA has experienced a big push when it came to rethinking architectural structures of how they do things, how they run events and how best to support their students. One of my first solo project was reworking their structure of how Sixth Form students were able to explore their interest subjects through taster sessions and how they decided on their A-level choices, all paperless and all virtual. Although for this digital option, the audience in question are well equipped to handle the navigations, I pause and wonder though- would schools have changed their, in-person ways, if the system put in place did not reflect any problems? As a result then, has the pandemic ultimately pushed certain institutions in doing things differently than they were willing to try? Potentially a positive way forward that they will continue to use. The final product for the Sixth Form turned into an interactive subject map, showcasing 22 options, where students virtually were able to get a taste of their subjects. <https://www.cgasixthform.com/virtual-open-evening> The Sixth Form team seeing the map work in action are now reconsidering the way they will do subject choices moving forward; this raises my initial exploration again of- will the digital ever replace a physical experience? Or will it continue to always aid alongside the physical?
Analysing data and statistics has been one new strand of information I have been able to learn while in charge of social media and helping with the schools digital newsletter. School newsletters originally have always reminded me of primary school; the end of school on a Friday, with the paper stuck to my hands to give to my mum. It’s memories like this where print forms can physically create experiences as memories. Yet even before the pandemic, the education environment took a step further from print newsletters and letters as they started to mass email them out. Even primary schools nowadays, equip parents with apps to allow them to keep track of all parent letters. Much more information is now kept online, as we consider it to be safer and easier not to loose track off, but although technology proves to be the direction of the future, how safe is this path that we are all blindly following and using, especially now as the pandemic has proved to us how reliant we are on it. Technology, especially during the last year, has made us reliant on the services it provides; it has provided us with information, it has kept us connected with our loved ones and at times helped us escape our house even if only briefly and virtually, and for all of this technology has gained our trust. But if ‘algorithms are opinions embedded in code’ (O’Neil, 2017) then should we be blind in thinking technology is more accurate than any other forms. At the end of the day we have to remember that even technology was created by us, therefore the historical data sets that are embedded in certain algorithms are simply the repeat of our past practices and patterns, as Cathy O’Neil points out. Technology has always been a further aid of the physical and I believe that even if advancements lead technology as a stand alone, it will always need a human interaction, as practices and patterns can sometimes have a sudden change, otherwise not predicted by the algorithms made.
As a young creative, I know that the potential for digital design is huge. Situating myself within the education environment these past few months, I am able to witness the digital world expanding the potential of what schools can do, making them run smoother and much more efficient during times of change. But we all know print will always be at the heart of things, the same way human opinions are essentially what creates codes for algorithms.
O’Neil, C. (2017) TED: The era of blind faith in big data must end. [video] Available at: <https://youtu.be/_2u_eHHzRto>.